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The behavior of the macro or mass-production segment of the U.S. brewing industry appears to be paradoxical. Since the end of Prohibition in 1934, the number of independent brewer has continuously declined while the major national brewers, such as Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and Coors, have gained market share. In spite of this decline in the number of competitors, profits and market power have remained low in brewing. Iwasaki et al. (2008) explain this result by providing evidence that changes in marketing and production technologies favored larger brewers and forced the industry into a war of attrition, in which only a handful of firms could survive. This led to fierce competition, especially from the 1960s through the mid 1980s. Since the late 1990s, the war appears to have subsided. Thus, the purpose of this study is to determine whether price competition diminished after the mid-1990s. We find evidence that competition has diminished but not enough to substantially increase market power.

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Journal of Wine Economics

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Journal of Wine Economics, Volume 7, Number 2, 2012, Pages 226–240 © American Association of Wine Economists, 2012